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5 Reasons You Should Watch the Shack

6 Mar

Isn’t The Shack just a made up story? Yes. Is it even based on biblical facts? Yes, in some ways, but I like to think of it as an allegory. Pilgrim’s Progress wasn’t a true story either. But wait, God is a man and not a woman, right? Well, who of us has seen God? These are some of the questions people have about the movie, The Shack based on Wm. Paul Young’s book by the same name. This book and movie have taken a lot of heat, but most of the critics haven’t bothered to read or watch it. If you are one of the skeptics, allow me to share five reasons why you might want to watch The Shack.

1. If You Have Ever Suffered a Huge Loss and Wondered Why

The Shack tries to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Many of us in hard times after a death of a loved one or some other terrible event have asked, “Where is God if he is sovereign?” This movie attempts to answer this question through telling a story about one man broken by a terrible childhood and then a loss in his adult life.

2. If You have Father Issues and Feel You Can’t Trust the Father

Early in The Shack we see Mac’s father beating him with a belt. If you grew up with a narcissistic parent who beat you, put you down or abused you in any way, you might find it very hard to trust God. This is because God’s original plan was for parents to act in the role of God to their children. When we were small and unable to provide for ourselves, we relied on our parents for everything. When they were abusive, it gave us the idea God might be abusive too. Part of the reason for this is that little kids can’t see the abuse. They won’t assume their parent is abusive, they just think they are bad. As children, we absorbed our parents’ sins and now as adults, we still feel unworthy. In the Shack, Papa goes out of the way to make sure Mac knows he is worthy of God’s friendship and love. That word friendship came up several times between Mac and Jesus. It reminded me of one of the least repeated verses in the Bible where Jesus says:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

One of the problems we ACoNs have with our parents is they often won’t release us to be their friends, because they want us to be their servants and slaves for life. Of course it is a form of love to serve our parents–but not when we are adults who are forced to submit to a narcissist abuser.

The Shack reminds us that God is not at all like a narcissistic parent, he is always concerned about what is best for us. In the words of Papa, God says, “I am especially fond of you!” And what is so amazing is that he is especially fond of every person in the world, but it doesn’t take away from the wonder and love he has for each of us as individuals. God is a good parent who loves every one of his children equally, but differently.

3. If You Have Been Afraid of God’s Wrath

In The Shack, Mac asks Papa what about God’s wrath. And Papa says, “What? What are you talking about?” Mac thinks God is vindictive and revengeful toward sinners and Papa reassures him this is not true at all.

If you have not discovered the fact that God’s wrath in Romans 1 is really about God letting people go to their choices and not about revenge, then study up on it. There will be fundamentalists who disagree, but a thorough study of the subject might back up Young’s ideas in The Shack.

This film gives a great example of letting go through the art of storytelling. While it has theological tones, the story itself is well written, well directed and well-acted. People without a religious bone in their body could still enjoy The Shack—because it is a well told story and the heart of this movie is not about religion, but relationship.

4. If You Struggle With Judging or Forgiving Others

It also shows how we can let go and still honor our losses.This movie is not just about losing someone dear, it also carries the message to stop judging others and forgive them–despite the horrible things they have done.

Every abuser was formed most likely by the abuse of their parents going all the way back to Adam and Eve. While judging and forgiving seem to be at odds with each other, the way we can deal with both healthfully is to let go.

In the situation of narcissistic parents, we are healthier for letting go. The burdens we carry don’t have to hinder us and tie us down, God can turn our pain into wisdom as we grow stronger until we learn to fly. In this story, like in many of our lives, there were characters who needed to be forgiven and there were nightmares that came from the darkness that could only be put to rest by looking to Jesus as our brother and friend.

I was particularly touched by one scene with Mac and his father. Once we see our parents’ wounds we can forgive easier and we can realize they didn’t mean to harm us, they were broken by the fall too. How many children’s hearts would be turned back to their fathers if parents only they owned what they had done and asked for forgiveness? Of course, we realize most narcissistic parents will never do this, but we can forgive them even when they don’t say sorry. We are the ones who will heal when we do this.

5. If You Have Trouble Trusting God in Any Way

About ten years ago, I went to a seminar where the speaker asked if Jesus was behind one door and the Father the other, which door we would choose to go through. My answer was the Jesus door because I thought Jesus was the good guy who had saved me from the Father. That night I learned some things starting with the fact that Jesus said he and the Father are one. God’s wrath is letting us go to our own choices. There is no revenge in the Spirit of God. That whatever Jesus would say and do for me is the same as what the Father would say and do for me. I was first in shock, then in awe of God.

The next morning I got up at dawn and looked at this amazing and gorgeous sunrise full of pink and gold. As I stared up at it, I felt the Spirit speaking to my heart that this display was for me. That Abba, Papa, Father–whatever we call God was shining his love on me and I began to weep. I asked him, “Father, can you really be this good?” I will never forget that morning—it was the day that changed everything in my life. I have never had a worry about the future or my salvation since. My feelings were similar while I watched The Shack. I was profoundly touched by God’s love.

The Shack gives us a little God’s eye view of humanity where we can see how God loves every person. One of my friends who went to see it with me said, “I wish I could go and stay at the shack for a long time.” Why? Because to dwell in that shack is to be nurtured and loved unconditionally by God. To get answers from God. I believe The Shack is a little taste of heaven and it will change your heart, but you’ll have to see it for yourself.

NOTE: Some will have theological questions about this, while I am not a theologian, I will share a little of what I have learned from others.

Some Theological Questions About the Shack

God as a Black Woman?

The biggest criticism of The Shack has been its portrayal of a black woman as God the Father. But people who have trouble trusting God as a father might need to see the feminine face of God. God said, “Let us make humankind in our image.” If Eve as Ezer Kenegdo was created in God’s image, then certainly God has a feminine side. Jesus himself said he would like to gather the people in Jerusalem like hen gathers her chicks under her feathers (Matthew 23:37). There is a Bible verse which says, “Even if a mother forgets her nursing child, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15,16).

The fact is God is Spirit. None of us have seen God. We know throughout the Bible God has manifested as the angel of the Lord in various places (Genesis 22:11–15). And God has manifested as a human even before Jesus was born, when three visitors came to Abraham and at least one of them was God. Even here, maybe the number three has significance (Genesis 18). When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit was manifested as a dove (Matthew 3:16). Paul says Jesus was manifested as a rock for the Children of Israel (I Corinthians 10:4) and he was also the cloud which protected them by day and night (Exodus 13:21).

The Shack portrays God manifested as a black woman, an Asian woman and as a Native American Father. I see no reason why such portrayals would shock anyone who understands how God bends close to the earth to meet each hurting human in the place where we most need God.


Other critics have accused Young of writing about Universalism which states that no one will be lost but all will be saved. I didn’t get this idea from the book or the movie. But it is important to note that God is especially fond of everyone—the question is will we allow God to heal us? Some may not, but it has always been God’s dream to save everyone–he just won’t force anyone.

When Mac asked, “Then are there to be no consequences for sin, Papa says, “Oh there’s always consequences.” Then Papa describes how God gives everyone freedom of choice–if this is true, then God either must win every soul to his way of thinking, or lose some.

I was reminded of two verses:

1. The Wages of Sin is Death (Romans 6:23).

Some say the wages paid by sin is death. This is the law of sowing and reaping. Some call it karma. Jesus taught about the parable of the sower. If there is no sowing, there will be no reaping. We all will reap what we sow.

2. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Some say sinners can’t follow God unless they are scared into it, but that is not God’s way, that is the enemy’s lie. How do we know this?

God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

The true biblical explanation of God’s wrath is actually letting go (Romans 1:18-32). We would all be wise to notice this passage is about all sin–not just the ones mentioned by the fundamentalist Christians. I believe when God lets go, the Holy Spirit releases people to their own choices.

The poison vine Sarayu warned Mac was deadly when helping him dig up the weeds in the garden of his heart, reminded me of how sin kills us. And if we refuse to allow Sarayu AKA the Holy Spirit to help us clean up those toxic parts in our hearts, we could become damaged and in danger of walking away from God altogether.

Disconnection from God is what is so deadly for all of us humans. This is why God’s enemy puts up so much opposition to The Shack. If people are afraid to watch it because some Christian warns them it’s dangerous, they might miss out on trusting God and having a better relationship with him and that could be a tragedy.

Where the Spirit of God is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Let each person decide for themselves.

Don’t Be Afraid

2 Dec

One of the worst forms of religious abuse is manipulation that scares people to be afraid of God. Fear has caused generations of people to be afraid of Jesus coming. Yet the message of Christmas is “Don’t be afraid.” This is what the angel told Mary and and what the angel told Joseph and later this is what the angel said to the shepherds when the angels came to sing.

It seems heaven’s mantra is, “Don’t be afraid.”

I believe Jesus came as a baby so we won’t be afraid of God.

Think about it.

Are you afraid of a God who gives up all of his power and lives in a womb for nine months?

Are you afraid of a God who was born in a cave with the animals?

Are you afraid of a God who comes as a helpless baby relying on us humans to diaper and feed him?

Are you afraid of this baby God who had to be hidden so a wicked king couldn’t kill him?

Are you afraid of a God who came–not to condemn but to love the world back to trust in God?

Are you afraid of a God who worked for most of his life in a carpenter shop?

Are you afraid of a God who owned no home or bed to lay his head?

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Are you afraid of a God who made time for little children?

Are you afraid of a God who gently touches the blind eyes and makes them see?

Are you afraid of a God who makes lame limbs walk again?

Are you afraid of a God who feeds thousands with five loaves and two fish?

Are you afraid of a God who wrote in the dust to set a woman free?

Are you afraid of a God who forgave Mary seven times?

Are you afraid of the God who taught us to forgive seventy times seven?

Are you afraid of a God who walks on water and shows Peter how to do it too?

Are you afraid of a God who washes the dirty feet of his friends?

Are you afraid of a God who allows himself to be captured and beaten?

Are you afraid of a God who allows people to nail him to a piece of wood and kill him?

Are you afraid of a God who dies for you and rises again so you can live for eternity?

Are you afraid of Jesus coming back to remake the earth so you can live in peace forever?

They were looking intently into the sky as He was going,
when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
“Men of Galilee, they said,
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This SAME Jesus,
who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way
you have seen Him go into heaven.”
-Acts 1:11

Listen to the angels.

Don’t. Be. Afraid.

You Won’t be Left Behind–Unless You Choose to Be

5 Aug

If I could go back in time, I’d go back forty years and give my thirteen year old self some advice: You won’t be left behind–unless you want to be.

It was popular to wear red, white and blue in 1976 because it was the bicentennial year and everyone was celebrating the fact that the United States had survived two-hundred years, but some had doubts it would last another ten.

I’m not sure if there is a plague more hostile to a civil land than conspiracy theories, but in 1976 conspiracy theories abounded. The kids at school the year before had been consumed with rumors about Big Foot and UFOs, but now that we had a born again Christian headed for the White House, the ultimate bogey man—the “mark of the beast” threatened life as we knew it. My parents didn’t send me to school that year because they figured it was the end of the world and Jesus would come before I grew up.

Jimmy Carter was running for president and nearly everyone I knew was against him. He was despised for being a Baptist and laughed at for being a peanut farmer. People hated that his sister was a woman preacher and his brother was a drunk. The people at church said Carter would destroy the separation between church and state and bring on a national Sunday law to force all of us to worship just like him.* They even said it was the beginning of the time of trouble.

There were other signs of the end around us, we had just gone through a terrible energy crisis and what could signal the end of the world more than running out of fuel? Another natural alarming sign was the fact that Mount Baker had started letting off steam the year before and everyone was wondering when it would blow. It was particularly scary because I lived on an island in the shadow of Mount Baker and the thought of being stranded on an island in the middle of a pyroclastic flow brought on nightmares of the apocalypse.

But nothing was as scary as a man who came to church in a trench coat who said he’d worked at the pentagon and stood around telling us conspiracy tales in a suspenseful voice akin to M. Knight Shyamalan. He spoke for hours in an excited voice, but every once in a while he lowered it to a whisper to say he had top secret information, but he couldn’t spill the beans on it. However there were a couple things he could tell us. Because of his high clearance at the Pentagon, he had access to files that proved we were about to have a nuclear war and it was time for us all to move to the country and grow a garden and prepare for the time of trouble.

He also told a story about an unknown man who picked up a couple of hitchhikers who turned out to be angels. The angels only rode a little way before asking to get out at the next exit because they were on business for the Lord. As they got out of the car, just before they dissolved into the Bellingham fog, they whispered to the driver, “Jesus is coming very soon.”

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My dad reminded us that it was time to put our lives in order and give up all sinning, “so we can be perfect before Jesus comes.” He had me memorize the writings of a church founder that said “Jesus would not come until his character was perfectly reproduced in his people.” I really felt the pressure, not only did I wonder how I was going to eat dandelion greens and ferns and hide in the rocks of the mountains, but I was mostly afraid of Jesus.

I’d been baptized the year before and I thought I loved Jesus at the time, but since then, I’d sinned by listening to John Denver. People at church said syncopation was the seat of satanic power. Even though I had paid for it by having a belting, I still liked the devil music and I knew in my heart I wouldn’t stop listening to such music forever.

I had also been told I needed to be right with God because I would have to stand before God without an intercessor. At night, I lay wide awake in fear trying to remember if I had an un-confessed sin. I’d heard Jesus was the intercessor so it seemed terrifying to imagine he’d abandon me during the scariest moment of my life.

In my panic, I gave up sugar, chewing my fingernails, reading comics and thinking about cute boys because those were my most obvious sins at the time. Fear and abstinence of all my vices pretty much stole all the joy out of life.

So if I could go back in time and talk to my thirteen year old self this is what I would tell her:

  1. Mount Baker is not the mountain to fear—at least not for another forty years. So you have some breathing space on that one.
  2. Nuclear war might be a possibility, but it’s not the only thing to fear. People can and will survive nuclear disasters, but love will never survive pride and hate. Pick your battles.
  3. God (this includes the Father, Son and Spirit) has said he will never leave you or forsake you (Isaiah 41:10-13). If any religious teaching says he will abandon you, this is a false belief based on a misunderstood teaching. When the Bible says “He that is righteous still, let him be righteous still, and he that is filthy let him be filthy still,” this is not an arbitrary command of God but actually a diagnosis of our human conditions. It is the revealing of what we have chosen. God gives you freedom of choice and you get to choose if you want to be saved or not. It’s always up to you. God will not force you to be saved or lost against your will.
  4. What about that word perfect? Well in the original language it means mature or complete. Jesus wants us to grow up in Him and act mature in love toward other people like our Father in heaven and he gave a list of what that actually looks like (Matthew 5). So it has nothing to do with chewing gum or even noticing a cute boy.
  5. There might come a time of trouble, but with inferred and other modern diagnostic tools, it will be pretty hard to hide in the mountains unless God performs a miracle. But the good news is God watches over his people (Psalm 91:4).
  6. Ignore that scary story because those hitchhiker angels are false angels. Jesus said only the Father knows the hour–not even the angels in heaven (Matthew 24:36).
  7. Big Foot and UFOs will pose a very small threat to your life—so will listening to John Denver. Syncopation is NOT the seat of satanic power—pride and selfishness are. As you get older, you will discover that pride and selfishness destroy love but God’s love and mercy are greater than your sins (1 John 3:20).
  8. Jesus isn’t going to come before you grow up, so ask him to help you plan your life.
  9. Oh, and President Jimmy Carter? He might be one of the best men ever to take the job because he was all for separation of church and state after all. Don’t let faithless conspiracy theorists manipulate your life. No matter how dark it is outside, no matter how dark your soul, God can always see in the dark and he will bring his light into the darkness all you have to do is ask him.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
To be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!

Then I said to myself,
“Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light,
they’re all the same to you.
-Psalm 139:-12

10. History will eventually repeat itself. We are in another election year full of conspiracy theories and fear messages, people keep writing to tell me they are so worried they can barely sleep. My advice is do yourself a favor and tune out all the fear messages and spend some time with Jesus.

When people start to tell me conspiracy theories or even plausible stories that breed fear, I walk away or take them off my news feed, because God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear.

If you are afraid of being left behind, read the gospels, learn to know what Jesus is really like. Don’t take someone else’s word for it. When you know Jesus, your fear will be gone because it’s his perfect love that takes away our fear. (1 John 4:17)

*PS Jimmy Carter said in an interview in 2012 he has always supported separation between church and state and even stopped having worship at the White House for this very reason.

To Spank or Not to Spank?

29 Apr

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with my parents is because they still feel they have the right to tell me what to do–what kind of music to listen to, how to vote, how to spend my money and how to worship God. For the first twenty years of my life, their will was imposed on me through what they called “The Persuader”—my father’s belt. I received my first spanking when I was one week old and my last on the day I left home at nearly twenty.

No one thought of my parents as mean. They didn’t look like evil parents, but they believed breaking my will was needed for my salvation. No one who knew us realized I was belted because I was isolated from society by not going to school and having visitors to our home was a rare occasion.

I would love to say the spankings I received were because I lied or stole or hit someone, but no, my list of crimes included everything from listening to John Denver and Amy Grant, to wearing tinted chapstick, to rocking back and forth to music. Sometimes I was belted for not moving fast enough when we were moving. And oh yeah, my worst belting occurred when I was seven for whispering to my sister in church.

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My mother told me her father spanked her only two or three times and he very gently spoke to her about what he was about to do and why. She told me several times in my childhood that she hated when Daddy punished me out of anger, but that was the situation most of the times I was belted.

Despite all of this, I didn’t grow up bitter or hateful toward my parents—I hated myself. I was bad. I was the loser who didn’t live up to their expectations. I spent the first twenty five years of my adulthood, buying groceries and paying power bills and doing whatever I could to help them. The truth was I loved my parents then and I still love them today, but I don’t agree with their methods and I refuse to let them tell me how to live my life any more. If they want to have a relationship with me, they will have to accept me as I am because I am through trying to play a game I could never win.

One day when I was forty-five, I was still telling a lie they taught me—that I was home schooled. It wasn’t a conscious lie, it came so naturally to say it, I said without thinking and then I screamed. I told someone I had been home schooled because this is what I had been taught to say. As a teenager, I had to say it or I would be belted. As an adult I had to say to protect their reputation and stay in good rapport with them.

That day I went home and screamed at myself in the mirror. I realized I had been trying to please them for over 45 years and a lot of was because I was taught to submit to their will. Even my issues with God came from these beltings. If the biggest person can bully others to do what they want, then why would I trust God who has all power in the universe?

The last time I saw my parents, I tried to explain how much these beltings have affected my life. My words fell on deaf ears because they believe they are right and I am wrong and they back it up with scripture because according to Christian tradition, the Bible says we should spank children. I know I’m not the only one who has childhood post traumatic shock because of beltings. People write me every week to tell me their stories and most of them include being beaten into submission in the name of God. One reader says she ended up in a fetal position on the floor with family members yelling at her. All of this was done in the name of religion and love.

Recently a landmark study about spanking has shown spankings are not as effective as people once thought. This study covered fifty years and 160,000 people. The term spanking in the article was not referring to beatings, but a swat on the butt.

This study has incited arguments all over social media with lots of people who didn’t even bother to read the study saying, “I was spanked and I turned out just fine.” The truth is if they said this without reading the study, they didn’t turn out fine. They are mere sheep following the crowd because the spankings they had in their formative years, taught them not to question and think for themselves.

One guy said he was spanked and he turned out just fine. I didn’t say anything because I’ve known him for years. I have seen him punish his little children in an anger fit and yell that they deserve a spanking. I also know his temper and anger are part of the reason his wife left him. He thinks he turned out all right, but why is he still trying to control his adult son? It’s a sad thing to see the damage done to this father son relationship because this man feels he still needs to wield power over his children.

There are two groups of people who will argue for spankings–narcissistic parents and religious parents and heaven forbid they meet up in Religious Narcia. The first narcissistic group of parents have to be right. They used physical violence over their children to bully and control them. Narcs feel justified in hitting their kids into submission because the world revolves around them and they feel they shouldn’t be bothered to take time to patiently discipline their children.

The second group are religious people who were spanked and taught to spank and feel it is God’s requirement to spank their child. Despite the fact it’s a misunderstood quote, despite the fact that Jesus never modeled spanking children, many of us have been spanked in God’s name. Even angry and abusive parents have justified beating their children supposedly for their children’s salvation. So what is this misquoted verse?

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children
is careful to discipline them.
-Proverbs 12:24

This verse definitely supports discipline but there is a marked difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline teaches and corrects, while punishment gets even for a behavior. If all the parents who used spanking to discipline thought about it, they might realize there are much better ways to train and get a point across than hitting their child. But it’s easier to hit them than reason with them. Being a parent is hard work and many feel they don’t have time to reason to they hit their children into submission.

The most important thing to note about this bible verse is to realize what a rod actually is–it’s not a switch it a belt. It’s a shepherd’s rod. To fully understand the meaning if this verse we need to consider how a shepherd guides his sheep. He leads and prods them and rescues them with the rod, but he doesn’t hit them with it. If he started hitting every wayward sheep, he would have chaos. Sheep are followers and not very smart. They need rescuing and guidance, but beatings won’t help with either of those goals.

This rod is NOT used for spanking.

What is used for? To guide, to prod, to rescue and lead. The fact that so many parents defend spanking with this verse and ignore the non-violent words and lifestyle of Jesus, reveals their Christianity is not about Christ, but human tradition. Using power over small children to hurt them because they don’t do what the parent wants is not only cruel, but it’s unchristian–as in unChrist-like.

There is another well quoted verse which mentions the rod from the 23rd Psalm:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

Apparently this comforting rod of the great shepherd is not to beat us when we are in fear of death. It’s very obvious this rod is not used for spanking. There is no comfort in a beating or a spanking.

Probably one of the worst arguments for spanking is the one that we can reason with older kids, but the youngest and most fragile in our families should be spanked. This argument takes the stance that babies who can’t talk or reason need spankings to communicate to them. Intelligent parents must surely contemplate what they communicating to their helpless baby by hitting them. They are saying, “I am the boss. Your needs are to be put on hold for my comfort. You are to conform to my request for quiet or whatever the spanking has provoked.

Someone shared a story with me from Astrid Lingren who wrote Pippi Longstocking. It was about a pastor’s wife who felt her little boy needed a switching. She told him to go out and pick a switch for her to use. He was gone a long time, then he came back crying with a rock. He said he couldn’t find any good switches, but she could throw this rock at him.

I cried when I read that story because it doesn’t matter if you hit with a stick or a rock, it hurts and it hurts deep inside the child’s psyche. Please don’t say that hitting is okay as long as you don’t beat them, you never know what is happening to their heart. And it only takes anger to go from a gentle spanking to a horrible beating. It does damage to children to realize their parent who they trust and adore intends to hurt them. That is the part of many of us that is broken. As the child grows up and leaves home, it will come out in all forms of violence against self through addictions.

Jesus is very fond of young children. He says to let them come to him–not so he can hit them, but so he can bless them. Jesus also has very strong words for anyone who harms a little child.

While he was dying on the cross, Jesus spoke of his abusers and said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” but he has much harsher words for those who harm children. Jesus said it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their neck.

This millstone is not retributive justice as some might mistakenly think–this is Jesus describing the terrible condition and lack of conscience it takes to harm a child. Jesus is basically saying if you stoop this low, there is very little hope for your salvation–not because God wants to kill you, but because the act of harming others changes you and it could make you contemplate suicide and/or lose your salvation.

We can’t take these words of Jesus lightly. They’ve been used against all kinds of evil, but perhaps our Christian tradition of justifying hitting God’s most vulnerable and precious children has seared the consciences of many to imagine they are doing the work of God–when in fact they are doing the work of the enemy and harming their children.

If you are still reading this, you must surely understand by now that the rod is not used for hitting. That God does not ask us to spank children. That Jesus wants us to discipline and teach children to live non-violent lives, but that won’t happen unless it starts at home. We now have a very large, long term study which shows the long term effects of hitting children is not a viable option. It doesn’t work. It only damages them far into their adult lives. We now have no more excuses for ignorance and continued spanking of children.

One thing most ACoNs know for sure is what happens in childhood, never stays in childhood, but according to Jesus, what happens on earth never stays on earth. Jesus says the angels of all little children look into the Father’s face in heaven–which means that all of heaven is watching and fully aware of those who choose to hurt children. If the Father sees a sparrow fall, then how much more does he see a child spanked?

Jesus also said whatever we do to the least of these, we’ve done to him.

Love and Logic has great ideas on non-violent parenting

Here is information about that Spanking Study

Things We Never Discussed on Easter

26 Mar

My family never celebrated Easter. Well we hid some candy-filled eggs a few times, but we never talked about the deep grief this planet suffered while Jesus slept in the tomb.

We never discussed how Jesus humbly washed the feet of Judas as tenderly as he did Peter–or how both betrayed him and both could be forgiven, but one chose not to be.

We never discussed how Jesus suffered in Gethsemane because the thought of separating from the Father nearly killed him.

We never discussed how Jesus who had been a hero for healing people and providing food for thousands was shamed and shunned publicly.

We never discussed how when Jesus was captured, Peter chopped off some guy’s ear, but Jesus put it back with no scars.


We never discussed how Jesus was brought before the authorities and refused to fight because His kingdom is not of this world.

We never discussed how Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work and win us back to God. Or how the Father was in Jesus reconciling the world back to God and not the force that murdered Jesus.

We never discussed how Jesus hung in the darkness and cried out because he felt abandoned and yet the Father never turned his face away, but was veiled in darkness because Jesus suffered the results of sin. Or how he who was not a sinner became sin. Or how he came to show us how God treats his enemies.


Prints and Accessories Available Here

We never discussed how the world’s best Sabbath keepers speared Jesus–the Lord of the Sabbath, to make sure He was dead so they could go home and get ready for Sabbath.

We never discussed how Jesus conquered sin and death and set each of us free from sin and death.

We never discussed how the women loved Jesus so much that even when he was dead they risked being known as his friends to bring burial spices to his grave.

We never discussed how Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener until he called out her name.

We never discussed the wonder in her eyes when she recognized her teacher, Savior and friend and ran to tell the world that Jesus is alive!

We never discussed how Thomas doubted, but Jesus gave him proof. Or how Peter was forgiven and reinstated. Or how Jesus made breakfast for his disciples.

There is so much more we could have discussed, but we never talked about it because Easter was discounted as a pagan holiday so we ignored all of this–except for the candy.

Re-Framing Our Picture of God

25 Mar

Religion has been a turn off for many ACoNs* because abuse thrives in Religious Narcia. In a world full of narcissistic parents, false lovers and self-righteous Christians, God has been grossly misrepresented, but rather than let the narcs destroy our faith, we should re-frame God so we can decide for ourselves.

Most ACoNs* crave a relationship with a parent who loves them unconditionally. We’d like to get along and enjoy life with our parents, but most of us have found out by trial and error it’s just not possible. Deep down inside our souls crave to know we are the children of a loving parent who truly loves us. We have heard God is good and that He cares for us, but our emotions about God vary depending upon our earthly parents and whether they lived what they taught or failed to show us unconditional love.

God is misrepresented because he’s invisible. We can have communication with God today, but for the most part we can’t see God or hear an audible voice when He speaks to us. With the exception of reading the Bible, our communication from God is subtle–through our conscience or nature. As a progressive Christian, I believe God speaks to us in three ways through what Dr. Tim Jennings calls the Integrative Evidence Based Approach to God. This evidence comes in three ways—through scripture, through science and through personal experience. If all three of these align, then we can be confident of the truth we have discovered, if only one or two line up, we have less confidence and should be cautious until we have more evidence.

To learn about God in the first place, we must rely on other people who knew Him—this includes the Bible writers who talked to Jesus or had some miraculous experience with God and people today who have had encounters with God that have changed their lives.

Reframe Butterfly,,

Print Available Here

Imagine the truth about God is an entire forest of trees. Some people like to pick and choose and many cannot see the whole forest of evidence because they are focused on just a couple of trees. For instance, I grew up in a church that proclaimed to have the truth. The idea was that our doctrines were truth and anyone who didn’t share that same view had no truth. The verse used for this was Isaiah 8:20:

To the law and to the testimony:
if they speak not according to this word,
there is no truth in them.

I was taught this means to have truth people must keep the Bible Sabbath (law) and follow the prophet (testimony). Today I understand Jesus to be the TRUTH and the law of God to be love. While the Ten Commandments reflect that law of love, they are not the original law. Jesus made the law of love clear when he said, “On these two hang all the law and prophets—love to God and love to man” (Matthew 22:40).

There are many prophets—a prophet is simply someone who speaks for God, but Jesus is greater than any prophet. The specific prophet in my church said to look to Jesus and not any person–including herself.

Jesus is the source of truth. Jesus himself said, “I am the TRUTH, the life, the way.”

Religious Narcs don’t like this idea because they like to feel one up and exclusive about their truth and since Jesus is free and accessible to anyone willing to follow him, such people feel viewing Jesus as the truth is too easy. They wish to define their own beliefs as unique–but what or who is more unique than Jesus-the Life giver and Creator of all we see?

When we realize Jesus is TRUTH impersonated, there can be no elite group of people who claim to have special truth. These people miss the forest for the trees. The life of Jesus–his teachings, his love, his sacrifice are the entire forest of truth and while some like to isolate a couple trees, seeking truth through Jesus is not only a lifetime experience, but the WAY and our quest for all eternity. If we become so proud of our truth that we fail to live like Jesus, we don’t know God.

To love another person is to see the face of God.
-Victor Hugo

This is not to say to throw out our doctrines, but they only have value when Jesus is at the center. Throughout the life and teachings of Jesus, we have this amazing opportunity to look TRUTH in the face. Jesus, the way he teaches and loves and touches and cares and heals all people—no matter who they are or what they have done. Jesus is the ultimate truth about God. If some of our doctrines disagree with Jesus, then we are missing some part of His truth. It’s not good enough to settle for a couple trees because someone failed to teach us the truth.

So if we want to know what God thinks of us and what God looks like, we can see Him in the face and character of Jesus. The Father didn’t kill Jesus like some pagan gods supposedly demanded a child sacrifice to appease sin as many falsely believe, but the Father took a risk and gave up his son and entered into the suffering with him.

The TRUTH through Jesus is the only way we humans and the entire universe could see what God is really like–a God who rides a donkey to his own coronation and wears a crown of thorns and gives his life so the rest of us can live forever.

This is the most essential Truth–to see Jesus and the Father and the Spirit as they truly are–a community of beings who are one is hard for us to grasp, but this much we know from Jesus–they are one.

Jesus says:

“If you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”

“The Father and I are one.”

“I will no longer pray the Father for you, because the Father Himself loves you!”

So if you go to church this weekend and someone tells you the Father killed Jesus for a sacrifice to appease sin, you might want to re-frame what that means in the context of the life of Jesus. Allow yourself to research what the early church leaders taught before Constantine mixed the Easter bunny in with child sacrifice to make God look cruel and vindictive. It might surprise you to discover the early church didn’t believe in penal substitution and they didn’t believe in everlasting hell.

Jesus didn’t teach penal substitution and there are very few verses in the Bible to support such a view. And if you understand the word hell in the Bible was Gehenna–a garbage dumb that burned day and night, then you might realize that even if you are the worst of sinners, Jesus will never burn you–not forever or at all. You will simple cease to exist if you refuse his healing.

The God who tells us to love our enemies is not a hypocrite like the narcs, he loves every person with an everlasting love. This means even if you refuse his offer to live in harmony with his love for all eternity, you will not be vindictively burned, but will simply cease to exist.

So many of us have been misled and abused by narcissistic Christians, it’s important for us to know God for ourselves. Perhaps you are confused and bothered by this post. If you are learning things, you’ve never heard before this might be your epiphany like it was mine. You might want to try to re-frame by doing some research on these topics. As the end of this post, I will include some resources.

If all you have time for is reading this one blog, allow me reassure you:

God is not a narcissist.
God is other-centered, not self-centered.
God doesn’t shun us when we don’t do stuff for him.
God doesn’t gaslight us.
God doesn’t lie about us to make himself look good.
God doesn’t send out flying monkeys to coerce us.
God never turns his face away from us.
God is the good parent you’ve always dreamed of having.

This is why the life of Jesus brings such good news–because Jesus shows us how God is love. Jesus came to live among us so we could re-frame all of our original opinions and look fresh into the face of God.

God and Your Brain Seminar


Servant God Audio Book

*ACoNs—Adult Children of Narcissists

True Love is a Person

14 Feb

Love is not some pretty flower-child sentiment
With all the fickleness of a springtime storm,
but an eternally abiding presence
that keeps the earth warm even–
when we cannot see it.

Love’s not some noble concept
to store in a book on a shelf,
but a fire which originates
and emanates from the throne
which burns to bless others because Love–
cannot deny Himself.

Love Never Fails PIllow,,

Pillow Available Here

God is love.
He’s not only loving and lovely
His very essence is love
and everything He touches,
is drenched in love.

In the face of Jesus
we see the source of love and life,
the bearer of every good gift and
an eminent being who always gives up self
in order to serve others.

The words “God is love”
are not some a passive platitude,
but an active marrow building truth
always bringing in its train
the concept of grace in action.

God’s law is love.
The ten and the two
are simply an expression of the one–
the greatest law of other-centered love
on which the entire universe is run.

We thought Jesus was smitten of God
but the Father who sends every good gift
and pours the sun on the just and unjust,
would never violate His principle of love.
Love. is. God’s. character.

Servant God Book Audio,,

Free Download Here

The God who asks us to turn the other cheek
did not kill the Son or demand a payment
because Love doesn’t seek its own way.

Jesus and the Father are one.
When we’ve seen Jesus,
we’ve seen the Father.
Jesus says He will no longer
beg the Father for us–
because the Father Himself loves us.

God is patient,
God is kind.
God does not envy,
God does not boast,
God is not proud.
God does not dishonor others,
God is not self-seeking,
God is not easily angered,
God keeps no record of wrongs.
God does not delight in evil
God rejoices with the truth.
God always protects,
God always trusts,
God always hopes,
God always perseveres.
God never fails.

God’s perfect love casts out our fear.

Without love–we’ve got nothing.


Peace Through the Storms 2

21 Nov

In my last post, it seems some people got the impression that I support partisan politics which is NOT true. I am sorry for giving this impression because I have no political affiliations and as a Christian, I firmly believe Jesus when he said his followers did not fight in the political arena of his day because his kingdom is not of this world. And yet he also said the kingdom of God is within us. My quest is to understand how Jesus wants us to live today to bring his kingdom closer to others with his Spirit.

How this plays out in the lives of Christ’s followers today is complicated. Many of us are invested in the security of our nation and also in the traditions of the Christian church. I believe we should challenge our thinking because Jesus and his early church lived a radically different lifestyle than the lives we live today.

Peace Pillow,,

Pillow and Prints Available Here

Yes, I do believe countries should protect their borders. I also believe Jesus is the author of boundaries. We should and do protect our borders. I was reading in Facebook from a lawyer who has worked in immigration for years who explains how we already have a very thorough vetting process since 911. He says that it is much easier for a terrorist to get on an airplane than to pass immigration.

We have a much higher threat from young white male Americans who do mass shootings, yet we are not vetting gun owners. While this may seem political and sounds like a left wing rationale, one only needs to read the news headlines to realize this is true no matter who states it.

So no, I am not saying be careless with our borders, I am just saying let’s not let our fears keep us from helping the innocent which are mostly women and children.

I also started following on Facebook a young humanitarian physician and others who are working in Lesvos, Greece to help the boatloads of refugees as they arrive. Reading his stories has really brought this crisis home to me. These people are not terrorists any more than our neighbors. All these people (many who are children) want is a meal and dry clothes and a safe place to avoid being bombed out or shot. I have to literally ask myself “what would Jesus do?”

As for judging others who see differently, I have not judged anyone personally, but put the facts out there that God’s kingdom is different. Jesus is a radical. He gave up his life to save others and told us to take up our crosses and follow after him. This looks different to different people and I can’t determine where individuals stand in relation to God–nor was that my aim by posting the spiritual differences between fear and love. Sadly, we are in some ways repeating the history of what happened during the holocaust. Anne Frank and her family were refused immigration. A ship was turned away from Florida only to return to Europe and two thirds of the passengers went to concentration camps. These stories are repeating today.

Here are a couple books I have read that have formed my ideas:

This first one is about how fear and our ideas about God affect our minds and health. I have met Dr. Jennings and have dialogued with him on occasion.

The God Shaped Brain by Timothy Jennings

This second book seems more political, but it’s not supporting any partisan politics–as a matter of fact, I gave up politics eight years ago when I read it. Boyd suggests a radical following of Jesus. As an American who can trace my family ancestry back to Plymouth Rock and had eight great great grandfathers in the revolutionary war, I have always been proud to be an American and I still am–however I realize now that my loyalty must first be to Jesus. Jesus is political, but has no affiliation with any party—his ways are political only because following him threatens our comfortable way of life in the first world.

The Myth of a Christian Nation by Greg Boyd

As for being Spirit-filled vs fear filled, we see the natural results of this in choices played out every day. Fear kills us and others. When we choose to live with the survival of the fittest mentality we are saying “I better kill you before you kill me.” This never brings healing or peace. Jesus says He who lays down his life will find it again.

One of my heroes is Corrie Ten Boom who helped the Jews escape Nazi Germany and ended up in a concentration camp herself. Corrie’s story is not about left or right politics, but the radical lifestyle of Jesus that we are each called to live out. And none of us can tell another how to do this–it is a deeply personal decision.

What I do know is this:

“God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Tim. 1:7

“And there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

I will admit to you that I am not without fear–it is a constant work in progress we can only achieve through God’s grace. For me to find the peace Jesus offers, is to submit radically to his compassionate Spirit and to refuse to be biased against people because of race.

I hope this explains my process to those who are concerned. And no, I have no desire to turn my blog into a political one despite the confusion over my post yesterday.

Thank you for listening,

May God bless each of you!


Free to Tell Your Story

28 Aug

For the first decade after Beth left home, she and her siblings didn’t speak about certain events in their childhood. Their family rules included never talking about the past and never talking about what happened unless the person you were talking about was there. Beth and her siblings tried to cope with their CPTSD alone—until one of them tried to commit suicide.

To people who’ve never suffered narcissistic abuse, such rules might sound good and even biblical, but ACoNs know the recovery mantra is true—that we are only as sick as our secrets—and there is nothing sicker than an entire family walking on eggshells around a damaged childhood.

Even when we forgive our parents, the stress of a dysfunctional childhood demands that we pay attention to our pain and the best way to deal with it is to talk about it with people who get it. The most likely people to do that are our siblings because even if they are different ages and genders they are still the only other witnesses to our shared childhood.

When one sibling starts to talk or visit a counselor, narcissistic parents will do several things to stop the communication. They will at first remind everyone of the taboo of talking outside the family. Then they will try to scapegoat and ostracize that child. Then they will send in the flying monkeys armed with Bible verses like Matthew 18. Like one Bible verse will counteract all they have done in the past to abuse. Once again, welcome to religious narcia.

Hummingbird Liberty,

Prints Available Here

It’s frustrating to deal with well-meaning Christians (who have little idea what it is like to be raised by a narc) who imagine Matthew 18 is the solution. They claim Jesus commands us to hash out our issues with the narcissist before we can talk to anyone else about it—including a counselor, but they are wrong. For one thing if talking to the narc about it had worked in the first place, we would not be in the position of having to talk to a counselor now.

In such discussions, a portion of Matthew 18 is taken out of context while the rest of the chapter is ignored altogether. When Jesus says to leave your gift at the altar and go and make things right with someone, He was simply speaking against hypocrisy. He wasn’t suggesting we spend hours arguing with our abusers. And He wasn’t telling us to not tell our stories.

When it comes to keeping family secrets, the people who lie and gaslight us have given away their right to privacy when they abused us.  If you have any experience with religious narcs, you know such conversations go nowhere. Christian narcissists are both self-proclaimed victims and Pharisees and if there was anyone Jesus preached against—it was the Pharisees.

So no, Jesus was not talking about victims of childhood abuse in Matthew 18. How do we know? Read the rest of the chapter.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—
those who believe in me—to stumble,
it would be better for them
to have a large millstone hung around their neck
and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Did you hear that? This is Jesus talking to the little child inside your heart. He is telling you that what happened to you as a child—the beatings, the yelling, the lack of empathy was NOT okay with Him and it’s not okay with His Father either—

See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven
always see the face of my Father in heaven…
Your Father in heaven is not willing
that any of these little ones should perish.

Jesus welcomes the child inside of each of us. He wants us to remember our childhood innocence and wonder and our pain. He knows we have been so bruised and damaged and we are afraid of many things in life and He wants to heal us. He knows we need other people who can validate our pain and share His love with us. Jesus knows the only antidote to our fear is His perfect love (1 John 4:18) and sometimes this only becomes tangible through other people. This is why healing happens in small groups.

No matter what the narcs say, God sends holy angels to watch over and comfort us. We might feel lonely, but we are never alone. And no matter how abusive the people who raised us, God does not want to lose us because of the sins of our fathers and mothers.

It is God’s desire to draw us into relationship with Him. And that often includes finding safe people to share our stories with. Even the passage quoted most often from Matthew 18, can be applied to narcissism. Jesus knew narcissism would rear its ugly head—

If they still refuse to listen,
tell it to the church;
and if they refuse to listen even to the church,
treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

What a fitting description of how to deal with a narcissist. Narcs refuse to listen because they don’t want to remember what they have done to hurt us. Jesus says there is a point where we just have to walk away and possibly go No Contact.

Today Beth and her siblings talk about their parents—not in some demeaning way, but to remember and heal their wounds. They do not need to bring their parents into the discussion because they already know their parents won’t say sorry. What they need is the validation that comes from shared pain and finding ways to make healthier choices in their own lives.

So the next time you are telling your story and someone pulls out Matthew 18, ask them if they have read the rest of the chapter.

The True Dawning of Women’s Rights

26 Aug

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the day women were given the right to vote in America. We take it for granted, but 100 years ago women were shut out of having a voice within the laws of our nation. We’ve come a long way baby! Except in fundamentalist Christian circles where women are still being treated as second class today. Even as recent as this year, votes in my own denomination have been proclaimed to keep women in their place for the most sinister reason of all—that God counts Eve as less than Adam.

There was a time when Jimmy Carter was laughed at for saying he was a “born again Christian,” but those days are over as the last few decades have shown his commitment to treating people as Jesus would. Carter and the Elders of many nations have addressed the issue of violence against women. They claim fundamentalist religions where women are not treated with equality is one of the primary causes of abuse. Carter is so convinced that he left his beloved Southern Baptist church because they refused to ordain women. He made a statement at the time that bears repeating:

“This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

“At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

“The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.” –Jimmy Carter

Pink Dawn,,

Prints Available Here

Fundamentalist Christians point to the Bible Patriarchs to justify and excuse their subjugation of women under the title of male headship. It’s true, the Patriarchs all practiced male headship, but they practiced polygamy and slavery too. The problem contributing to this male headship confusion is choosing to read the Bible through a lens that omits the light of Jesus.

For most of the history in this world, women have been considered to be inferior to men, and under the authority of men—either their father before marriage, or their husband afterwards, but I find it hard to believe God would design Eve as the crowing act of creation to be subjugated to Adam.

Some proponents of male headship say Adam knew God first, but like a cartoon recently stated—Eve had her own thing going on with God while Adam slept. Some say Eve is less because she sinned first, but Eve was deceived, while Adam willingly sinned. The blame game really gets us nowhere because as members of the human race, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I’ve heard preachers say the ground at the foot of the cross is level, but sadly some would like to consider themselves of a higher value than a woman. The ground is either level or not.

Did God command male headship? If we read the story in Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve had to leave the garden because they were damaged by sin. And I might add they were now paranoid. After all they were hiding in the bushes from their Creator and friend who was still treating them kindly. Paranoia and control ruin relationships—just look at all the divorces caused by both.  Sin damages our ability to see each other and treat each other with other-centered love.

God saw what was happening with Adam and Eve and told them Eve would now cling to her husband and Adam would rule over her, but this was never God’s original plan—it was a description of what sin has done. No longer would they serve as equals and one, but they would be at each other’s throats unless someone was in charge. Adam was physically stronger so he won in power, but Eve would still try to outsmart him. Male headship is a very sad picture, because two people can’t be one unless they are both equal parts. The problem of considering self above another affects all of humanity and this is why Jesus came—to destroy the devil’s work.

The way Jesus treats women brings light to the dynamic between men and women—but only for those willing to think outside of a box created by the devil in Eden. After the fall, the world was plunged into darkness for at least four thousand years. The life of Jesus is the beginning of the dawn that must have shocked the men and women of His day.

Jesus Breaks the Social Norms for Women

  • Jesus Ignores Ritual Impurity Laws
    Women were considered unclean at certain times for bleeding, but Jesus allowed a bleeding woman to touch Him and then He rewarded her with healing (Mark 5:25-34).
  • Jesus Calls Women into His Inner Circle
    This included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna and “many others” (Luke 8:1-3).
  • Jesus Uses Terms That Treat Women as Equal to Men
    When He healed a woman of an evil spirit He called her daughter of Abraham which gave her the dignity and status of any son of Abraham (Luke 13:16).
  • Jesus Converses With Foreign Women
    The Woman of Samaria (John 4:7-5:30).
    A Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:22-28).
  • Jesus Allows Women to Study at His Feet 
    This was a place for only male disciples, but Jesus affirmed Mary and promised this place would not be taken from her (Luke 10:38-42).
  • Jesus Calls and Sends Women to Preach the Good News
    The Woman at the Well led people to Jesus (John 4:7-5:30).
    Mary was given the first resurrection sermon and isn’t it ironic men have been giving this message for centuries often at the exclusion of women preachers?

Jesus came to restore what was lost in the fall. He came to unite all humanity as equals so we can be one again—not just in name, but in reality. One between husband and wife and one in the Spirit of Jesus which will lead us to be one with all the various parts of the body of Christ. This oneness leaves no room for anyone but Jesus to be the head.

Can you see the light? If you are awake, the light has already come, but many continue to live in the darkness of male headship. It’s a false religion where Christians claim to represent God’s character but fail to treat women as Jesus does. Men can use God’s name to offer women the lessor seats in the church, but someday God’s dawn will shine for everyone to see. Whether men ordain women or not, God is bringing the dawn and no man will be able to stop it.

Jesus brings the dawn—one heart at a time. Jesus. Is. The. Dawn.

For look, darkness covers the earth,
and total darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will shine over you,
and His glory will appear over you.
-Isaiah 60:2

Jimmy Carter TED Talk

Jimmy Carter Losing My Religion for Equality

The Status of Women in the Gospels

Andrew University Unique Headship of Christ Statement

A Short History of Headship Doctrine in Adventist Church